Google Home Hub is smart display that lacks a camera

Google fires at Apple with Pixel 3 phone, other devices

Separately, the Google Home support page has been updated to support playback speed controls for news and podcasts.

Google on Tuesday launched a new version of its connected speaker with a touchscreen display created to be a hub for smart home devices but without a camera for privacy reasons. The display is backed by a "crystal clear speaker" and the attractive design with fabric base and rounded corner display is available in Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua and Sand finishes. The Google Home app has been updated to control multiple devices more easily and remotely, and access Google Assistant in-app as well. That machine is Google's Connected Home, a.k.a. smart home, thrust and it is the unspoken underlying theme of Google's event earlier today.

Google uses the screen to show you more information about the weather, about local restaurants, and so on. Being able to do that without holding your phone up is obviously a better experience - but it remains to be seen if it's something that would make shoppers pick one smart display over another.

In tandem with that new piece of hardware, Google is updating the Google Home app to better reflect its intention to have Google Home be the one application you need to control the tech in your house.

The Google Home app redesign is in a slow rollout starting now. Of course, when the Home Hub isn't busy broadcasting your front door camera or queuing up new music, it can display all your Google Photos albums and even update albums of specific people through facial recognition.

We consciously chose to not include a camera on Google Home Hub, so you feel comfortable placing it in the private spaces of your home, like the bedroom. However, it did include Ambient EQ light sensor, which allows the screen to automatically adjust to match the lighting in the room. When it's time for bed, Hub knows to dim the screen for a good night's sleep. However, Google's upping the ante a bit by adding a bit of home-control interface to the mix via the Home View feature.

Lastly, you can use Google Home Hub to watch YouTube videos - something you can't do on Amazon's Echo devices.

The Google Home Hub, competing against Amazon's Echo Show, was unveiled at a NY media event at which the tech giant also announced its upgraded Pixel 3 smartphone and a new tablet computer dubbed Pixel Slate. There is also an option available to broadcast a message or check your cameras (like through Nest Hello) or turn up the volume on the TV, and so on.

Pre-orders are open now.

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